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## Getting Over Excel Phobia

When I was in high school, I took a math class that, to this day, has left me very scared when dealing with anything related to numbers.

Our teacher decided that since we are an “honors” class, the best way for us to learn math is to find mistakes in a math book. It didn’t work, for obvious reasons. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be looking for, how can you know it’s wrong?

That teacher left school before the end of the semester to play piano in the south (my high school was in Long Island, New York, and not known for its mild winters).

Because of that fear of numbers, I never learned numbers and I believed I never would. Just seeing a number symbol on a page made my mind spin.

I tell this story to explain how my phobia about math led to a phobia about Excel – because Excel uses numerical symbols and formulas.

Every time a client has suggested that an Excel spreadsheet would be the easiest way to manage the data in question, I’ve found another more complicated workaround.

A former colleague of mine once showed me that I could use an Excel spreadsheet to record words and prioritize data. In fact, he prepared the worksheet, showed me how to do it, and by showing me, he was doing it for me – bless his heart.

Although I now knew it could be useful in certain situations, I never learned to use Excel on my own.

I managed fine without the need for Excel until last week. The Government Services Administration (GSA) auditor has asked me to provide Excel spreadsheets that list my company’s annual sales and annual sales under our GSA contract for the past year.

In complete panic, I looked online. I read articles and watched YouTube tutorials. They gave me the confidence to start a worksheet, write columns and enter text or numbers into them. I was even able to find the full index. However, when I click the Auto Sum button, nothing happens.

I sent my spreadsheet to various friends and colleagues, but no one was able to work with it. A colleague (who has worked with me for over 15 years) suggested that it might be easier for me to add up the numbers rather than trying to find the whole number with Excel.

When I expressed my anger to my daughter, her first question was why didn’t I ask her first? I knew that he had taken many computer related classes for his job. It never occurred to me that any of those classes are related to Excel.

My daughter told me that she works with Excel, keeps her budget in Excel, and would be able to help me. So, I sent him a worksheet – and he couldn’t do anything with it.

However, he understood why the worksheet was not responding. It was not well prepared.

Over 1.5 hours, he patiently walked me through how to set up each column, what else I could do with the columns, and how to get the totals. I can’t tell you how grateful and relieved I was! His genuine concern for teaching me how to use Excel eased any fears I may have had.

I used Excel confidently the next day to write the words in the list of words. Boy did you make my job easy!

Will I remember everything he showed me? Probably not, because I won’t be using Excel much in the future.

The audition situation encouraged me to face my fears, so I can’t claim to have one *selected* to “look my fear in the face,” as Mrs. Roosevelt advised.

However, I now know that I don’t have to fear Excel anymore and that it can be a useful tool.

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